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Health Q&A

Posted September 12, 2012 in Advice Column, Norwalk

Q: What is a concussion?

A: As fall season athletics begin, a commonly diagnosed injury among athletes is a concussion. However, concussions are found not only in athletes, but the general population alike, and knowing the signs, symptoms and causes of a concussion are extremely important to safely participating in all activities.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump or hit to the head, or from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth, resulting in damage to brain tissue, similar to a bruise. Due to the sensitive nature of the brain, all concussions should be considered serious and under the care of a medical professional, proficient in concussion management. Most concussions occur without a loss of consciousness and typically result in a variety of short-lived symptoms that resolve spontaneously. Signs and symptoms may be noticeable immediately, or may take days to weeks before appearing.

Common signs and symptoms of a concussion include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, decreased coordination, memory disturbances, inability to concentrate, poor sleeping and eating habits, and mood changes (this list is not all-inclusive). Those diagnosed with a concussion may have all, many or none of the above listed signs and symptoms. Treatment of a concussion requires rest of both the body and brain and need uninterrupted sleep to ensure proper brain healing. Any activity that stresses the brain should be extremely limited: cell phone use (texting included), music, TV, video games, physical activity, reading and loud noises or bright lights. The physical therapists at Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers are experienced in treatments and proven return to activity protocols for concussed patients. If you are interested in more information regarding baseline testing, concussion management, or treatment options, please contact: Nicole Smith, Clinic Manager at 515-953-1310.

Information provided by Nicole Smith, MPT, Norwalk Physical Therapy, 800 Colonial Circle, Suite 100, Norwalk, 515-953-1310.

Q: What is end-of-life care?

A: Many individuals, including senior citizens, do not like to discuss the topic of end of life care.  Look at this topic as preparation to make sure plans are in place and families are not forced to make decisions on your behalf that you did not chose for yourself.
End-of-life-care can take on many forms. Education is key. What do you need to do to prepare for your future? Do you have the following in place?
• Prepaid burial
• Funeral home of choice
• Living will/advanced directives
• A safety deposit or lock box with important papers
• Power of attorney paperwork
• Long-term care insurance
• A secondary signature holder on your accounts

These are just a few of the areas that you will start wanting to think about and address not only with yourself but with other family members and friends. The reality is that we are all going to have to face making those decisions that impact our futures when it comes to death and dying. Being prepared before this time arises allows those around you whom love you to celebrate your life. Not having to burden others with these tough decisions will allow them to enjoy their final days with you.

There are many social service agencies for seniors that are able to assist in all of these areas. There is a local phone number (211) that you can contact. These individuals will get you in contact with those agencies that can assist.

When you are prepared for the future you are prepared for the unknown.

Information provided by Kris Baker, Norwalk Nursing and Rehab, 921 Sunset Drive, Norwalk, 515-981-0604.

Q: What causes color vision deficiency?

A: Color vision deficiency, sometimes called color blindness, is the inability to distinguish certain shades of color or in rare cases, see color at all. Genetics provide the most common cause of color deficiency. This inherited condition is the result of an X-linked recessive gene passed from mother to son and affects both eyes. About 8 percent of Caucasian males are born with some degree of color deficiency, and while women usually only carry the gene, about 0.5 percent have some problems with color vision. Fortunately, inherited color deficiency tends to stay stable and does not lead to further vision loss.

Ocular disease or injury to the optic nerve or retina can also lead to color vision problems. Some of these diseases include glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetes. Systemic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, MS and leukemia can cause defects in color perception. Medications used to treat heart problems, high blood pressure, infections and psychological disorders can also affect color vision. Advancing age can make color vision become more difficult, as can exposure to certain chemicals such as fertilizers.

Information provided by Dr. Michael O’Meara, Optometric Associates, 1228 Sunset Drive, Suite A, Norwalk, 515-981-0224

Q: What are some back-to-school health tips for my kids?

A: “To succeed in school, children need to be healthy, alert and able to see properly,” says Robert Adler MD, vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics and director of Medical Education at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Here are some top 10 back-to-school tips.
    • Getting shots. Check with your doctor to make sure that your child(ren) have received the recommended vaccines for their age.
    • Eye exams. Have your child(ren) get a complete eye exam before starting school.
 • Helmets. Be sure that your child wears a properly fitted bicycle helmet when riding bikes to school or just riding them for fun and fitness.
• Snacks. By shopping carefully, you can get your childstarted in healthy eating habits. Provide milk, juice and servings of fruit or vegetables.
    • Bedtimes. Get started early with a school bedtime schedule. By setting a bedtime schedule, you are building consistency in your child(ren)s daily routine.
   • Backpacks. Watch out for back pain caused by backpacks. Look for backpacks with individual compartments and put heaviest items closest to the body.
    • Car safety. This remains a top priority throughout the year.  School brings an increase in car trips to school, lessons, sports practices, etc.
 • Sick day plan. Have a family plan for sick day(s) when your child should be kept home from school due to illness/fever. You should never send your child to school with a fever.
 • Fighting germs. Teach your child(ren) regular handwashing and home cleaniness.
    • Talk it out. It is important for parents to consistently talk to their child(ren), to know their personalities and be alert to any changes in behavior.

Information provided by Ronda Montgomery, Norwalk Family Physicians, 801 Colonial Circle, 285-3200.

Q: Can nail-biting pose any dental problems?

A: Unfortunately, nail-biting is more than an unsightly habit. The habit can leave more than stunted fingernails; it can lead to problems with the temporomandibular joints — the joints in front of the ears where the jawbone meets, also known as the TMJs.

Any activity, like nail-biting, that involves holding the teeth in an unnatural position for extended periods increases the possibility of injury to the TMJ. Over a long period, the unnatural position of the jaws involved in nail-biting will stretch the muscles in the jaw, causing pain and throwing off balance of the TMJs. If a very young child begins the habit, it can contribute to a gap developing between the front two teeth. Also, the type of person who is prone to nail and finger biting, may also be prone to picking at his or her gums.

Some dentists and physicians recommend putting a non-toxic, unpleasant-tasting lotion in the fingers. Other believe putting a bandage on a finger could serve as a reminder and deterrent. If you have a nail-biter in your house or you are yourself a nail-biter, talk with your dentist about ways to break the habit.

Information provided by Norwalk Family Dentistry, 1101 Chatham Ave., 256-9000.

Q: When should I take my child to a chiropractor?

A: Chiropractic’s drugless and preventive approach to good health makes it perfectly appropriate for infants, children and teenagers. Chiropractic is licensed in all 50 states of the U.S. for the care of children of all ages.

When you want to give your child a head start in good health and all the benefits of a conservative, drugless approach to health care, you should take your child to a chiropractor. It is important to have a chiropractic exam during the first year of a child’s life as spinal trauma can occur during birth as well as from tumbles while learning to sit up or walk. Improper lifting and carrying can also contribute to spinal stress.

Your child’s spine grows almost 50 percent in length during the first year. This is equivalent to a six-footer growing to nine feet in just 12 months. It’s this kind of tremendous growth and developmental changes which make a complete chiropractic examination so important in the early stages of a child’s life. If there is a problem, the earlier it is corrected the less likelihood there is of it becoming a chronic or more serious problem later in life.

Doctors of chiropractic believe it’s much more important to prevent diseases than wait till some disease occurs.

Information provided by Norwalk Chiropractic, 1228 Sunset, Suite B, 981-9208, www.norwalk-chiropractic.com.

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